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acme rider
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Tiburon, CA
Joined: 05/11/2010
Posts: 3

Hi Everyone,

I'm a new member and in the very early stages of looking for a restoration project. I rode motocross as a kid and have been riding street for about 10 year now. Started a local riding group that has now grown to over 900 members.

I was always a Honda person, but wanted an adventure bike which is how I ended up on my first BMW... an R1200GS which is now my favorite bike. I took it a couple of years ago to Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada - http://www.northbaysportriders.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=10121 (I live just north of San Francisco). I'm now in the middle of transmission overhaul (long and painful story) - http://www.northbaysportriders.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14103 with the help of some knowledgeable friends.

I've been looking for a fun garage project and was really inspired after visiting the Solvang Motorcycle Museum ( http://www.motosolvang.com/ ) and seeing an R12. I never got that bike out of my head and how cool it was. So now I'm going to start doing the search for a project. So far I've gotten "The Art of BMW" book ( http://www.amazon.com/Art-BMW-Years-Motorcycling-Excellence/dp/0760333157 ) and starting to learn what I can about the history and models.

I would love any advice/tips on picking a model from that era and where to look for one. I realize it could take months to find and even more to complete. I'm not looking for something that's already been restored, but a project where I can strip and catalog all the parts down to the frame and do a complete rebuild.

Thanks in advice for any help, advice, tips and/or sanity checks (I've hear "you're crazy" three times now).

Take care,

Jack

Darryl.Richman
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VBMWMO #6285
Surf City, USA (Santa Cruz, CA)
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 2185
Already "Restored" may be different than restored

The R12 is a good bike to get into prewar with because BMW made so many of them, there are a lot of parts (especially reproductions) available, and a lot of people have experience with them.

The R12 is an awful bike to get into prewar with because most of the remaining bikes seem to have lived through 50 years of eastern block life, being made to run again when they were already thoroughly worn out and therefore horrible fixes were applied. Many of these bikes are, as one commentator put it, parts zoos, not complete bikes. Number forgery is rampant, and a bike that has been "restored" may have been cosmetically restored in order to get a lot of money, but may be a real mess inside. We ran a three part article in the club Bulletin a couple years ago on The World's Best R12, which documented many of the sins of omission and commission — you can see an expanded write up about the Best R12 at this link.

Another couple of bikes to watch out for are the R35 single and the R71. The R35 was made in large numbers for messenger duty during the war, at BMW's factory in Eisenach. After the war, Eisenach was in the eastern zone, and the Soviets continued to make R35s. The first ones were from left over stock and, other than by serial number, are not distinguishable — so of course there are a lot of forgeries. Even later R35s that have differing details still get forged, which ruins their value as EMW R35s.

The R71 was a design that the Wehrmacht didn't much appreciate, but other armies did. Harley copied the drivetrain in their XA model, but nobody tries to make a Harley into a BMW. However, the Soviets did copy the R71 (as the M72), and then in the late 50s sold the production line and tooling to the Chinese, who still make them today as the Chang Jiang CJ-750. You see tarted up CJs all the time claiming to be WWII BMWs, or postwar BMWs with CJ stuff in them.

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VBMWMO Webmaster,--Darryl Richman
http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

Bruce Frey
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VBMWMO #6316
Texas Hill Country, USA
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 574
Well, you are a bit crazy to

Well, you are a bit crazy to think about it, but I mean that in a good way! It will be expensive and the learning curve will likely be steep and bumpy. It certainly was for me, but I have really enjoyed the experience!

On a personal level, modern (postwar) bikes just do not light my fire. With the exception of a 1975 R90S (which definitely DOES light my fire), my bikes are prewar (BMWs so far, but that could change). I enjoy the historical and aesthetical aspects of them, searching for parts, the perpetual tinkering, etc., but it is not for everyone.

As Darryl implied, Caveat Emptor is the order of the day. There are many charlatans lurking out there.

Whatever you do, ignore the burning desire for instant gratification. Learn about old BMW, understand the different models, see good examples when you have the chance, narrow your choices, enlist help from experienced collectors.

The problem is that you don't know what you don't know. I have more than a couple parts on the shelf that the flea market vendor said were correct, and I thought they were correct.....but actually were not. This was the result of my own ignorance and I do not think it was intentional on the vendor's part, but very few vendors are really experts. Unless you know what the real thing looks like, it is difficult to recognize a incorrect part or judge the quality of a reproduction.

Start by reading and learning. Three good books are:
Motorcycles from Munich 1923 to 1969 - available at your friendly BMW dealer
BMW Motorrader Typen und Technik, Hartel, Heinz 3-7606-0102-3 - out of print, but copies turn up frequently
Bahnstormer, Setright, L .J. K. - out of print, but copies turn up frequently

You can also find a lot of pictures on the BMW archive site.

Finally, the Kradrider Group on Yahoo has a lot of (mostly) good information.
Kradriders

Welcome to the asylum!

Bruce

Peter
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VBMWMO #8076
Australia
Joined: 03/04/2007
Posts: 133
Welcome

Hi Jack and welcome, the asylum is the only place to be, it's an truly elegant obsession to have.

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R42, R12, R51/3, R69S

acme rider
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Tiburon, CA
Joined: 05/11/2010
Posts: 3
Thanks for all the great

Thanks for all the great information! Part of the fun for me will be the learning process... I've gone through this on several projects and I enjoy the challenge. One of the first jobs I had as a kid was working in a vintage european car restoration shop and we use to take the cars apart, catalog all the parts, strip the frame, powder coat it and then load them on to converted missile carriers (big frames on wheels for moving things around) and start to rebuild them one part at a time. Each part would be evaluated whether it could be restored, replaced or re-built and that was the process until it was finished. All that pre-internet so there was a lot of guess and trial and error. I would take the same approach for this project as well. My expectation is it could take up to 6 months to find what I'm looking for and another 6 months + to get to some level of completion. Again... a big part of it for me is the journey you take.

Thanks for the greeting and the information... as I make progress I will definitely check in on a regular basis. BTW... I got the Art of BMW book and it was a great starting point for learning those early models. Any suggestions besides eBay on where to start looking? I'm not opposed to finding one overseas... I sometimes travel to Europe for work... so could potentially check something out in person once I'm qualified to evaluate one of these bikes.

Thanks again for all the help!

Jack

schrader7032
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VBMWMO #7032
San Antonio, TX
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 6844
Your experience with European

Your experience with European vintage car restoration was similar to what I'd heard about the venerable BMW 2002 sports car. I lusted after one of those and had heard about a shop that would do just as you suggest...take it apart piece by piece, cataloging the whole way. Then the car would be rebuild and in the end you would have a car that might have looked like it just came off the showroom floor 20 years after the fact. I never got my dream but the concept of that type of restoration has stuck with me.

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Kurt in S.A.
'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

acme rider
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Tiburon, CA
Joined: 05/11/2010
Posts: 3
My favorite quote by Mark

My favorite quote by Mark Twain - The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

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